April 28, 2004

Will Smith - Defensive End - Ohio State

#18 Overall Pick: Will Smith
Defensive End - Ohio State
6-3 - 265 pounds - 4.7 40

430-pound bench press … 585-pound squat … 325-pound power clean … 33-inch vertical jump … 9-foot-6 broad jump … 4.05 in the 20-yard shuttle.

Masterful pass rusher from Ohio State and arguably the top defensive end prospect in the draft. USC's Kenechi Udeze went two picks later at #20 and contended with Smith for the top rating.

Smith, a criminology major from Utica, New York, had 30 tackles, 20 tackles for losses and 10.5 sacks as a senior. Had 8 tackles for the Buckeyes in the 2002 college national championship game against Miami. Finished fifth in Ohio State history in career sacks. An extremely active player despite facing the double team all season long, Smith also had four pass defenses and two forced fumbles. Will be a liability versus the run in the pros unless he becomes stronger.

One of the top players available overall, Smith also fills a need for the Saints because he gives them leverage in the Darren Howard negotiations. Howard is currently the locked into a one-year contract by the franchise tag and negotiations for a long-term pick have not progressed well.

Smith is a high-motor pass-rush specialist and at 265 pounds should be able to serve as a pass-rush specialist in passing downs as a rookie. Bolsters the Saints' defensive line depth and provides a possible starter down the road. Provides a core member of the Saints' defensive line rotation and in passing downs, the Saints will move Darren Howard or Charles Grant inside and allow Smith to rush from the outside.

In a 3-4 defense, Smith could be an outside linebacker but in the Saints' 4-3 scheme will be a nickel and dime-package pass rusher. There is even thought that Smith could play inside linebacker, but Smith's strengths obviously lie in the edge pass rush.

"A high-character guy, a good player," according to Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. "Obviously we like him as a player and as a person as well."

Saints Director of Player Personnel Rick Mueller: "As a senior he was playing specials teams. He's doing the kind of things you want a guy to do. A guy we had high up on our board and was kind of on our wish list in a way. I don't know if we realistically thought we'd get him. At this point in our draft, it was a no-brainer for us. I don't want to put in the Deuce McAllister area, it wasn't something he was realistically thought we'd be able to do. We feel pretty good about where we got Will Smith."

When asked by WWL and NOPF's Kenny Wilkerson about Miami DT Vince Wilfork, Rick Mueller: "Completely different kind of players. This kid's really athlete and he's got a lot of speed. You can never have enough pass rushers. We all thought it was the best thing for us."

Rick Mueller: "We were sure we wanted this guy. We didn't solicit any calls to move back, we had a couple calls but we really never got to the point where we knew what they would give us... This was a guy you looked at in the fall and knew he had special ability."

Haslett: "We had them all [other available prospects] rated around the same. We got a number of calls and we made a number of calls to try to move around. We knew we were going to get one of those five guys. Coach Belichek called and asked if we wanted to move around, we said we were going to take our pick. He said that he was our number two guy on the board, so we got a great pick... I think he has more speed than Udeze. Will's quicker, turns the edge faster, kind of slithers around. Udeze plays a lot like Darren Howard. Smith plays a lot more like a combination of Charles Grant and Joe Johnson, moves around well, moves his hips well, has a lot of power."

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